by John Grey
The photograph is of your great-grandparentsfrom the Azores. He is Joe. She is Beatriz.You never met them.This wedding photo may as wellhave been dug up at an archaeological site.But it’s been passed down through the generations,along with snapshots of other strangerswho share your blood.It’s their supposed happiest daybut it can only make you sad.You feel like someone who wasn’t invited.And how much you want to givethe tall gaunt man a hug.And the plump woman with the showy white gloves –her sepia cheeks are ripefor a kiss.But they left you off the list.It’s all your fault for not being born yet.And they are Portuguesein a way you never could be.Look at that determined face.He’s willing to do any job,no matter how hard.He has a young bride to support.And, inside those gloves, I sense hands,ready to get beyond the foolery of a honeymoon,pounce like catson the wedding gifts, hand-me-downs in her new kitchen,bedroom and bath.You’re so American,you’ve anglicized your name.No wonder you weren’t invited.They wouldn’t recognize your branch of the family.And then there’s the clothes you wear.Not a trace of any country,old or new,just the one you’re living in.But you’re drawn to Joe and Beatriz.And, in a way, they’re drawn to you.Maybe, a hundred years ago,the cameraman said,“Hold steady. Smile.Look directly at Holly.”They obeyed the first instruction.The second, not so much.The third, at times like this.